Rita Colorito

Rita Colorito specializes in covering health, safety, and caregiving for both people and pets. Her work has appeared in dozens of publications and media sites, including SELF, Costco Connection, Bankrate.com, Prevention.com, and Edmunds.com. A hockey/soccer mom, Rita lives outside Chicago with her husband, son, and three shelter cats.

Hospital-induced delirium is when patients (most often elderly ones) become confused, anxious, aggressive and in some cases have verbal and physical outbursts while in the hospital. This sudden and severe change in mental status affects more than seven million hospitalized Americans each year.

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Not all steroids make you stronger. Some commonly prescribed forms of this powerful class of drug might actually make you weaker, especially when it comes to your bones. With strong anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties, corticosteroids, the legal kind of “steroids,” have been prescribed since the 1950s to treat more than a dozen acute and chronic conditions, as both prescription and over-the-counter drugs. When it comes to serious and potentially debilitating side effects, the method and duration of corticosteroid delivery matters. Oral Corticosteroids Systemic corticosteroids, because they are absorbed throughout the body, have the biggest potential for serious long-term health effects.…

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Antibiotics are the drugs of choice when it comes to fighting bacterial infections. Without antibiotics, infections such as strep throat or tuberculosis can cause organ damage, even death. But while they’re destroying the bad bacteria that’s making us sick, they’re also doing a number on the beneficial bacteria that normally live in our gastrointestinal (GI) tract — leading to side effects. That disruption of our gut flora causes gastrointestinal complications ranging from mild to moderate antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD) to the more serious AAD caused by the toxin-producing bacterium  Clostridium difficile (C. diff). There’s nothing good about those side effects. But…

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In 2016, at the age of 44, Susan Leonard was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. For the last two years, Leonard has gone through a gauntlet of numerous treatments to keep her cancer from returning, including a double mastectomy, chemotherapy, two types of hormone therapy and surgery to remove her ovaries. The treatments put her into menopause — and her bone health at serious risk. In April, to prevent osteoporosis, Leonard received her first infusion of Zometa (zoledronic acid), an injected medication belonging to a class of medications that aim to stop bone density loss, bisphosphonates. But Leonard and…

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Nearly 12 years after the FDA approved Zostavax, the first vaccine to prevent shingles in adults 60 and older, the vast majority of seniors still haven’t received it. Only 30.6% of adults age 60 and older reported getting the shingles vaccine, according to the latest CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) assessment of vaccine coverage. Since it became available, Zostavax has faced numerous barriers in terms of getting seniors vaccinated, the assessment found. In October, the FDA approved a new shingles vaccine, Shingrix, for people age 50 and older. Less than a week later, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on…

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Participating in research can be a great way to benefit from experimental treatment (and maybe earn a little $$). 8 things to know before you sign up. Without clinical trials to test drugs and medical devices, we wouldn’t have the medications available to us today. While not without risk, certainly no one expects to die during a trial from an experimental drug. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened in January 2016 in Rennes, France, when a botched clinical trial left one participant hospitalized and declared brain dead.The trial was conducted by Biotrial, a French research company contracted by the Portuguese drug…

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In Part 6 of our 7-part Drugs in Pregnancy series, we tackle the difficult issue of antidepressants during pregnancy. As we noted in the intro to this series, about 90% of pregnant women take at least 1 medication during pregnancy, with 70% taking at least 1 prescription drug, according to the National Birth Defects Prevention Study. That said, it’s safe to say most pregnant women don’t want to do anything to harm their unborn child, but they’re often in a bind when they have to take certain meds — and few drugs fit that description better than the antidepressants that…

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In Part 5 of our 7-part Drugs in Pregnancy series, we’re talking about the issue of sleep meds during pregnancy. Being pregnant makes sleep problematic for many women, for a whole host of reasons: You have to get up to pee more frequently earlier in your pregnancy, you’re uncomfortable in the later stages — and worrying about impending childbirth (not to mention motherhood!) has the potential to keep you wide-eyed for all 40-something weeks. Hormonal fluctuations play a role, too. Progesterone, which increases during pregnancy, interferes with sleep rhythms. For more on pregnancy and drugs, see the other chapters in…

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In Part 4 of our 7-part Drugs in Pregnancy series, we tackle antibiotics. If you’re wondering whether taking an antibiotic is a good idea or harmful to your baby, the answer is a resounding … it depends. It depends on the infection at hand, for one thing; most must be treated, as not doing so would cause more harm to you than it would pose a threat to your baby. And it depends on the drug itself: There are many types of antibiotics, some considered safe, some no-no’s. For more on pregnancy and drugs, see parts 1 through 3 in…

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